ANCHORAGE – Led by 17 kills from Leah Swiss, defending NCAA Div. II runner-up Alaska Anchorage opened its home campaign Thursday with a 25-18, 23-25, 25-19, 25-18 victory over Chico State in the third match of D2 West Region Volleyball Showcase, presented by Hilton Garden Inn, at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The nationally 14th-ranked Seawolves (3-2) also got nine kills and five block assists from sophomore right-side hitter Diana Fa’amausili and eight kills on .350 hitting from junior outside hitter Chrisalyn Johnson as they prevailed again in a rematch of last year’s NCAA Tournament First Round contest.
The Wildcats (4-2) were led by 14 kills and 11 digs from outside hitter Olivia Mediano, while Kim Wright added 10 kills and three aces for the visitors from the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
Swiss – the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Preseason Player of the Year – had two of UAA’s 12 aces and hit an impressive .312 on 48 attacks, joining Johnson, sophomore middle blocker Vanessa Hayes (7 kills, .357) and junior middle blocker Tara Melton (5 kills, .333) as one of four Seawolves with at least five kills on plus-.300 hitting.
After Chico State earned a tight victory in the second set to tie the match, the Wildcats took control out of the gate in the third with leads of 7-1 and 11-6. The Seawolves flipped the script, however, using an 8-0 run, boosted by a pair of aces from Hayes. The Wildcats then led 18-17 when a service error opened the door on a 5-0 Seawolf run. Swiss accounted for two kills and Fa’amausili had two blocks and three kills to close out the final eight rallies, including a spike by Fa’amausili on set point.
Clinging to an 18-17 lead in the fourth, Swiss stopped a 4-0 Wildcat run with a kill, and Hayes smashed back-to-back kills off Chico State overpasses to wrest control for good. Johnson would add two points with a solo block and a kill, and Hayes served her career-high third ace on match point.
Senior libero Keala Kaio-Perez led the Seawolves with 17 digs and added three aces, while freshmen Casey Davenport and sophomore Madison Fisher shared the setting duties, combining for 36 assists and 10 digs.
The Seawolves return to action tomorrow at 3 p.m. when they face No. 24 California Baptist (4-0) at 3 p.m. at the Alaska Airlines Center in the sixth match of Showcase action.
Match 2: #15 Concordia-Irvine 3, #11 Cal St. San Bernardino 1
Rachel Flynn had 12 kills, nine digs and three aces to lead a balanced attack for the Eagles in a 16-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-11 victory over the Coyotes in the second match of the D2 West Region Showcase, presented by Hilton Garden Inn.
Concordia (4-0) also got 11 kills from Hailey Gaines and 16 digs from libero Madeline Deters as the Pacific West Conference squad earned the win despite being outhit, .207 to .193.
CSUSB (3-2) was led by a match-high 16 kills from All-California Collegiate Athletic Conference outside hitter Lauren Nicholson.
Match 1: #24 California Baptist 3, Western Washington 0
Lauren Hackett smashed 13 kills and McKenna Witt tallied a double-double to lead the Lancers to a 25-14, 25-21, 25-18 sweep of defending West Region runner-up Western Washington in the opening match of the 2017 D2 West Region Showcase, presented by Hilton Garden Inn.
CBU (4-0) got 11 kills and 10 digs from Witt, plus 11 kills on .588 hitting from middle blocker Sydney Marks to keep the Riverside, Calif., program unbeaten and score a victory for the Pacific West Conference.
WWU (3-2), of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, was led by nine kills and 13 digs from all-conference outside hitter Abby Phelps.